Company directors at recycling firm Wormtech have received suspended prison sentences for allowing “mountains” of rotting food and plant waste to pollute the countryside, a court heard.
Wormtech Ltd directors Jacqueline Powell (pictured), 58, Jonathan Westwood, 38, and Robert Baynton, 42, were warned repeatedly by both the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales to take adequate steps to stop leachate leaking from the company site at Caerwent, near Chepstow in Monmouthshire.
The recycling bosses ignored the warnings and left the Welsh Government with a £1.5m clean-up bill when the composting business folded in 2012.
Timothy Evans QC, barrister for NRW, said leachate leaking from the company site posed a risk of harmful pathogens being released into the environment.
Despite repeated warnings, the company’s efforts to stop leakage were deemed insufficient.
Timothy Evans QC – “There were mountains of compost in storage that had to be dealt with in particular ways. This grew and grew and grew”
“There were mountains of compost in storage that had to be dealt with in particular ways. This grew and grew and grew,” said Mr Evans.
Judge Neil Bidder said there had been a risk of ecoli and salmonella in the compost being sold on to farmers.
He sentenced Powell, Westwood and Baynton to suspended sentences of 12 months, 32 weeks and 16 weeks respectively and ordered Powell to undertake 250 hours’ unpaid work and Westwood 15 hours.
Westwood and Baynton had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching an environmental permit and consenting or conniving with the keeping of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution. Powell was found guilty following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court last month.